Kuttler had a great grandmother who was a Seward and learned that she was related to William Henry Seward, the secretary of state under President Lincoln. And it turns out that Seward appeared on a U.S. stamp.

"I gave (a presentation) to the Howard County Genealogy Society and got some people interested in stamps. I gave my presentation to the stamp club and got some people interested in genealogy," Kuttler said.

Learning through collecting

Longtime North Laurel resident Mann, 72, another club member, said he learned a lot as a young boy by collecting stamps. Even a few weeks ago, he heard something on the news about American historian Francis Parkman, who lived from 1823-93 and wrote about the Oregon trail, among other topics.


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While Parkman may be unknown to most Americans, that was not the case for Mann.

"I knew who that was. He was on a stamp," Mann noted.

Mann points out that some small countries, such as island nations, will use stamps as a way to generate revenue for their government.

The oldest stamps at the auction in October in Columbia were U.S. stamps from 1893 to mark the 400th anniversary — albeit a year late — of Columbus discovering America.

"Things moved slower then" in 1893, noted one of the Howard County collectors.

The three Columbus stamps in the series at Harpers Choice included one that depicted the explorer in sight of land, another of Columbus soliciting aid from Isabella and Columbus being welcomed in Barcelona.

The highest asking price for one of three at the auction was $24 and most of the stamps that were sold one recent evening went for less than $3 per lot.

The only female member in attendance this night was Marriottsville's Aldona Pilius, who collected stamps when she was younger but put the hobby aside while raising her children, she said.

She returned to stamp collecting and joined the club in 2003 when her children were older. Her parents were born in Lithuania and she did some translation for some Lithuanian stamps at the recent auction.

"You go to a stamp show and everyone is in their 60s and 70s," Kuttler noted. "You don't see a lot of women. It is about five guys to one woman.

"It is basically for old men. There you have it."